Red Light District 101

I never had any intention to post about hookers, pimps or pot because I really wanted people to see that The Netherlands is so much more than that but I have to give the readers what they want…

So let’s start with the Red Light Districts, there are 3 areas located in Amsterdam that are all called the Red Light District.  There is one major area that the tourists go to, it is near the train station, easy to find and marked on all maps.  The area is concentrated to a few blocks.  If you are visiting other cities in Netherlands and are a perve, do not worry, almost all major cities have a Red Light District but they are MUCH smaller.

From this point forward all the information I am going to give you is regarding the Red Light District in Amsterdam it is from observations and things I have read.

What is in the Red Light District?

  • Sex Shops, lots of them.  Whatever you are into, they sell it. Rubber suits, vibrators, costumes, bondage stuff, lubes, sex swings, movies, magazines.
  • Bars, there is a variety of bars.  Some are a little more rowdy than others. Since there are not places to pee or convenient stores if you get thirsty a bar is the place to go.  The key is to just check out the vibe of the place before entering.
  • Head Shops - They sell a variety of drug paraphernalia, marijuana and magic mushrooms and naughty souvenirs.
  • Coffee Shops – you can get a coffee in there but coffee shops are marijuana cafes.  You can smell the smoke as you walk by.  Just like with a bar each shop has it’s own vibe, some have loud music blaring, while others are quietly playing Bob Marley songs.
  • Strip Clubs – there are some for men, women and gay men.
  • Souvinir Shops – They sell pot leaf ash trays, t-shirts, mugs witn boobs on them, winter hats with AMSTERDAM on them, snow globes, etc.  There really is something for everyone.
  • Prostitutes - Hookers are in booths with large glass windows with red curtains.  When the window is open the girl is open for business.  If the curtain is closed then she is working.

Souvenirs are interesting in Amsterdam

Tourists always wonder if the Red Light District is safe.  That really depends on what you consider safe.  Amsterdam is a city with 2.2 million people, anytime you are in a city that large you have to be vigilant.  There is always a visible police presence.  I have taken my children ages 11,13 and 17 to the RLD.  With that being said I have personally never been in the area past 9pm.  There is a big difference in the atmosphere between 2pm and 9pm.  It is definitely much safer during the day.  From what I understand there is a pick pocket issue in this area but I hear that about every major city in Europe.  There was a very publicized case of an American male tourist being found dead a few years ago.  Apparently he was partaking in all the things that the area had to offer, separated from his group of friends and was stabbed.  It was said he might have been trying to purchase drugs.

Red Light District Safety Tips:

  • If you are traveling to the area and want to see it at night, I would suggest going right at nightfall.
  • Men – Keep your wallet in your front pocket.  Ladies – Use a purse that zips closed, use one that hangs diagonally across the body, keeping it in the front of your body.  Keep it closed at all times.  I actually put my money, id and cc in a change purse with a clasp and I hook it to a zipper inside the purse.  It makes it that much harder to rob me.  Keep cash in a few areas, so if you get hit they do not get everything.
  • Do not use the ATM in that area if at all possible.  I use one at the hotel and pay with cash whenever possible.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to pee, bathrooms are scarce.
  • Keep your camera put away.  Photos of the prostitutes are NOT allowed and you are inviting big problems if someone thinks you are taking photos of them.

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